Posts Tagged ‘wildflower seeds st augustine’

The First Native Plant Garden: Terra Forming and Final Edition

Thursday, May 22nd, 2014

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

Brown Eyed Susans and Blanket Flower

Brown Eyed Susans and Blanket Flower in the Native Plant Garden

Back in the day there was my front yard, and we called it the Valley of Death because nothing grew there.

So we started planting Florida native and drought resistant plants in 2011, and what a difference a few years makes. We’ve got a thriving butterfly garden and several varieties of plants that grow well and don’t need watered. The front yard really looks good and the dead patches, thought not completely gone, are the minority now.

It’s like one of those science fiction movies where they “terra form” a dead planet into something thriving with life. And then Khan shows up and tries to kill Captain Kirk, but then Spock saves everyone, but I digress…

The biggest surprise is that the scarlet milkweed and porterweed, which are annuals that we planted last year, are all sprouting new growth this spring. The unusually cold winter should have knocked them out but there they are springing from the roots. I accidentally knocked the resurgent porterweed out, not realizing it was one of the plantings, but it’s got a few leaves back, so whew!

New Native Plantings

Last September I planted some Florida native viburnum in front of the garage, the most extreme edge of the front yard. But I failed to water it while still it was still in the containers, and two of the plants died before I could put them in the ground.

This spring I went to the nursery to get more in order to replant them, but I saw the mature form and didn’t like them, so instead I bought dwarf versions of the very local East Palatka (also known as “yaupon”) holly (Taylor’s Rudolph Ilex Vomitoria) and planted them in locations on the side of the house. For the two dead viburnums I planted another version of dwarf holly (Ilex Schellings) that supposedly is ideal for full sun and dry conditions. I would have bought more East Palatka but I bought all the nursery had and Ilex Schellings was the only thing left that would fit the bill.

Lastly, I added a bunch more porterweed (red and blue) because it establishes itself so easily and readily, and blooms all summer. A truly awesome plant.

Blue Porterweed and Wildflowers

Blue Porterweed and Wildflowers

The Final Plantings

The porterweed and the hollies are the final plantings I will do in the Valley. The house is on the market (and is currently under contract), so I won’t be living there any longer.

But we are starting a new project in our new place, with its own unique challenges. And I look forward to telling you about that next … stay tuned!

Click here for a link to all the Native Plant Project stories, including where and what types of wildflowers we bought, where to get them, and how to plant them!

Let us get you planted in a new home so you too can become a Florida “native!” Hire St. Augustine Team Realty! Contact me at the email up top or email Kate Stevens, my partner and Broker Associate, or call (904) 377-2276.



Native and Drought Resistant Plants for St. Augustine: Wildflower Plantings in November

Monday, November 14th, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

My daughter seeding Florida native wildflowers.

My daughter seeding Florida native wildflowers.

This month we’re finally seeding wildflowers for our Valley of Life Project.

A recap: I’ve nicknamed my front yard “The Valley of Death” because nothing will grow there, except sand and the occasional weed.  So I decided to replant it using Florida native and drought resistant plants that are perfect for the soil and climate (read about our earlier plantings this season).

Last month we tarped off an area of the Valley for planting Florida native wildflowers.  The idea is to kill anything underneath the tarp using the heat of the sun, which is ironic as nothing grows in the Valley anyway.

In the meantime we ordered a 1.5 oz seed packet from  I ordered the beach wildflower mix which includes Beach Sunflower, Blanket Flower, Soft Coneflower, Standing Cypress, and Powder Puff Mimosa.  I chose the beach mix because I really like Blanket Flower and Soft Coneflower.

The real trick (before ordering the seeds) was trying to figure out how much/many seeds we needed.  After doing some research online I somehow came up with the figure of 7 pounds of seeds per acre.  The tarped test area that we were going to plant the wildflower seeds on was only 120 square feet (.22 percent of an acre).  So the smallest seed pack sold (1.5 ounces) would actually work out to something like 4 times as much seed as we needed.

When I pulled off the tarp this weekend the scraggly grass that was there when I covered it was dead (okay, I exaggerate when I say nothing grows…the grass is patchy and gets burned out easily in the hot sun), but some of the scraggly weeds still managed to maintain some green.  The weeds don’t grow well but they won’t die either!  Oh, well.

I moved the tarp to an adjacent area that we’ll seed next month.

My daughter and I used a rake to scrape and till the area, but not too much.

Then we took out the wildflower seeds in pinch-fuls and let the wind broadcast them onto the tilled area.  It’s hard to believe that so few seeds are needed.

Stomping down the wildflower seeds.

Fun, fun, fun! Stomping down the wildflower seeds.

Then the fun part (for my daughter) was stomping over the area to make sure the seeds made contact with the soil, so they can germinate.

Ideally we should have tarped the area in August and planted the seeds in October, per the reccomendations for Northeast Florida.  But since we live so close to the actual coast where it’s warmer, as opposed to being well inland, I’m hoping we’ll get by with a later planting season more suited to Central Florida.

If things go as planted the seeds should sprout sometime in the spring or early summer.

Contact St. Augustine Team or just call (904) 386-8327 if you want to find your Florida native home today!

Native Plants and Drought Resistant Plants for St. Augustine’s “Valley of Death”

Tuesday, August 23rd, 2011

by Sean Hess (, Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty ( Join us on Facebook.

“Look around you, this is the Valley of Death.” -The Humongus to Mad Max, The Road Warrior

The Valley of Death is not so far away as the apocalyptic wasteland of the 1981 classic The Road Warrior.   In fact, it’s my front yard, near Wildwood Drive in what I like to call the Unfashionable South End of St. Augustine.

Fountain Grass wondering what it did to deserve this.

Fountain Grass wondering what it did to deserve this.

Beyond sand, the only thing my front yard will tolerate growing is the occasional and daring blade of bahia grass.  The centipede grass that we thought would weather the full sun and sand better than anyother grass only grows until the unyielding sun burns it into a brown crisp.  A magnolia…a Southern magnolia…that we planted six years ago still survives, but it’s shrunk.  It only stays alive from the water I use to wash my bike every weekend.

With the extended drought this year it’s been a particularly hard for the green things trying to eek out an existence in the Valley. Even the weeds won’t grow.

I don’t have an irrigation system, and don’t want one.  So what to do?

The solution of course is drought resistant plants and Florida Native plants whenever possible.

I started by checking out every Florida landscaping book and Florida native plant book from the library to get ideas.  From those books we got a good idea of what plants could survive the full sun and poor soil of the Valley of Death.

Then my wife and I “mapped” our yard by walking it and planting stakes in the approximate areas where were wanted to plant.  And then we figured out what we could plant during the hot month of August.

From there it was to Southern Horticulture on the Island where we talked to our friend Lauri to see what plants they had in stock.  We came up with something called Tender Fountain Grass (pennisetua setaceum) “Rubrum,” which tolerates heat, poor soil and doesn’t reseed itself all over the place. 

We had some good luck on the way.  The St. Johns County Ag Center was hosting a monthly talk on native plants at the same time.  Hosted by Elkton’s Renee Stambaugh of Native Plant Consulting, it was a quick introduction into some six or seven native varieties that we could plant right away.   

One of the master gardners speaking at the native plant talk also instructed us how to get the ground prepared now for planting Florida native wildflowers in October.  And even better, a source where you could buy Florida wildflower seeds in bulk: the aptly named

To start our plantigs we only put in three smallish containers of Fountain Grass.  As time goes on and we add plants season by season we’ll update you how it’s going in the Valley!

Planting Trees with Every Sale

Back in the day I started making a charity donation and tree planting donation with every sale.  The tree planting donation started when (during the go-go days of the real estate boom) a developer axed a gigantic old oak that my friends and I used to lunch under to build a parking lot.  The parking lot is pretty empty these days but the tree is still gone. 

I started the donation as an actual tree given to the buyer or seller (who’s house I just sold).  But nobody ever would get back to me on what plant or tree they wanted, so I just ended up donating to either American Forests or the American Chestnut Society, which used the monies to plant trees…but not necessarily in Florida.

So with this Valley of Death project I just started I am going to turn my donation focus there, for two reasons.  One, it will keep the donation local.  Two, it will also make the donation more relevant, in that we can learn together here about planting in the tough soils of St. Augustine. 

See our charity and tree donations so far.

For a team of Realtors that strives to be knowledgable about local plants as well as local real estate, contact St. Augustine Team Realty or call (904) 386-8327!